MANILA,  November 7, 2004
President Arroyo has appointed former foreign affairs secretary Delia Albert as her presidential adviser for multilateral cooperative development.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told The STAR yesterday that the details of the assignment, which would catapult Albert back into the inner circles of the Arroyo administration, are still being worked out.

But the career diplomat is expected to put her long experience in the service to handle matters related to the grants the country would receive from multilateral institutions and donor countries.

"She is very bright and her exposure in the international field would prove useful to her new assignment," Ermita said.

Albert rose from the ranks at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). She took over when Secretary Blas Ople died on Dec. 14 last year.

Her most recent assignment as DFA secretary was to head the Cabinet crisis management committee that worked for the release of kidnapped Filipino truck driver Angelo dela Cruz in July.

She was replaced by former Executive Secretary Alberto Romulo during a Cabinet revamp last August.

Ermita also announced the designation of Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) chairman and chief executive officer Antonio Basilio as officer-in-charge (OIC) of the de facto Philippine diplomatic mission in Taiwan.

In line with its one-China policy, the government does not maintain official relations with Taiwan.

Ermita said Basilio was designated as MECO OIC after Mrs. Arroyo accepted the resignation of retired Gen. Edgardo Espinosa.

Espinosa resigned as managing director of MECO effective Oct. 31 in an obvious attempt to preempt a Sandiganbayan ruling imposing a 90-day suspension against him while he undergoes trial on graft charges.

He is one of several military officials linked to the alleged anomalous purchase of P3.8 million worth of Kevlar helmets.

As a result of his resignation, Espinosa also gave up his appointment as the country’s resident representative to Taiwan.

The anti-graft law provides for the suspension of government officials accused of graft.

But Espinosa’s lawyers have argued that the provision does not apply to their client on the technicality that MECO is not a government body. — Marichu Villanueva

GMA back on air By Marichu Villanueva The Philippine Star 11/07/2004

She’s set to go back on air. Will her much-vaunted taray hit the airwaves too?

President Arroyo has decided to resume her televised press conferences at Malacañang starting Monday, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said yesterday.

He announced that Mrs. Arroyo would hold "The President’s Hour" to be aired live at government-owned Nation Broadcasting Network Channel 4 (NBN-4).

Bunye, who is concurrent press secretary, said "The President’s Hour" will be carried nationwide from 6:30 to 7 p.m. with other television stations hooking up with NBN-4.

Hopefully, Bunye said the President will have an interaction with both local and foreign media on a regular weekly basis.

Mrs. Arroyo shied away from conducting live televised press conferences at the Palace where she unsuccessfully curbed her presidential temper when reporters throw questions she found irritating.

At one time in her first three and a half years in office, her media managers headed by former public relations adviser Dante Ang, came up with a regular radio/ TV program for the President dubbed "May Gloria Ang Bukas Mo." It was, however, short-lived with the Office of the Press Secretary eventually scrapping the program.

As a compromise arrangement with the Malacañang Press Corps, Mrs. Arroyo occasionally holds informal luncheon interaction with Palace reporters but without TV and photographers’ cameras.

Bunye said "The President’s Hour" will keep the Filipino people, especially those in the countryside, posted on issues affecting the nation.

He said the public has expressed their desire to hear the President herself discuss her plans and programs.

Mrs. Arroyo has been making rounds in the media circles to promote her recently launched Medium Term Development Program, containing her administration’s 10-point legacy agenda for the next six years.

In a luncheon meeting she hosted with top media executives at the Palace last Thursday, which was attended by STAR publisher Max Soliven and editor-in-chief Isaac Belmonte, the President renewed her appeal to private media entities to give equal space or air time to "good news" as well as other positive developments in the country.

In her most recent speech at the National Press Club, read for her by Bunye, the President cited the presence of a "market for good news," which can likewise sell newspapers and up TV and radio ratings.

Her spokesman echoed this call, saying some "positive thinking" would not hurt.

Bunye noted that no matter what the President does, or says, "doomsayers would always conjure up a dark cloud even on the brightest of days."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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